The Principle of Supremacy and the Response of Member States' Constitutional Courts

AuthorIrinna Vavaletskou Palaiologou
PositionUniversity of Southampton
Pages18-22
S.S.L.R The Principle of Supremacy and the Response of Member States’… Vol.8
18
The Principle of Supremacy and the Response of Member States’
Constitutional Courts
Irinna Vavaletskou Palaiologou
University of Southampton
Abstract
ne of the main concerns that was highlighted, by the referendum requesting
Britain to leave the European Union, was the principle of supremacy as
developed by the European Court of Justice. This article will examine the
principle of supremacy, the response by national courts, the true nature and extent of
the principle, whilst discussing the statement by Michael Gove MP on who should be
the political decision-makers. The facts and opinions expressed in case law and
journals, will be used to add to this discussion and will be connected to the original
statement by Michael Gove MP throughout. It is concluded that despite the original
opposition, acceptance is the more commonplace as Member States realize that they
can allow supremacy, without losing their own sovereignty.
Introduction
The concern mentioned in the abstract arose due to the widespread belief that the
supremacy of EU law interfered with basic political ideals of the United Kingdom, such
as parliamentary sovereignty.1 As expressed by Michael Gove MP, the legal and
political decisions of the nation should be determined by bodies which are elected and
that ‘the public must have the right to change laws and Government at election time’.2
This statement is in harmony with views adopted by respected members of the legal
community, such as Lord Denning who has expressed that ‘[The UK’s] sovereignty has
been taken away by the European Court of Justice…[European law] is now like a tidal
wave bringing down our sea wall and flowing inland over our fields and house’.3 This
article will examine the principle of supremacy, the response of national courts in
Germany, France, Italy and the UK, the true nature and extent of the principle, whilst
returning to the aforementioned statement by Michel Gove.
The Development of the Principle of Supremacy
The principle of supremacy was mainly developed through case law. However, Article
4(3) of the Treaty of the European Union states ‘Pursuant to the principle of sincere
cooperation, the Union and the Member States shall, in full mutual respect, assist each
other in carrying out tasks which flow from the Treaties’.4 Furthermore, Article 18 of
the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union grants the discretion to the
European Parliament and the Council to introduce new legislation to protect against
1 Mark Elliott, ‘Brexit| Vote Leave, Take Control? Sovereignty and the Brexit Debate’
https://publiclawforeveryone.com/2016/06/23/vote-leave-take-control-sovereignty-and-the-brexit-
debate/> accessed 4 February 2017. “Parliamentary Sovereignty” will be referred to as ‘PS’.
2 Michael Gove MP, ‘Vote Leave’ 20th Feb 2016.
3 Lord Denning, Introduction to ‘The European Court of Justice: Judges or Policy Ma kers?’
4 The Treaty of the European Union, Article 4.
O

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